Mark Warburton would embrace the opportunity to face off against Brendan Rodgers with the Rangers manager maintaining that rivals Celtic would be doing his club and all others in the country a service should they land his former colleague.
Warburton was working at the Watford academy when Rodgers started his senior management career there in 2008.
The pair have kept in touch since, with Rangers chief scout Frank McParland having later enjoyed a close working relationship with the Northern Irishman during Rodgers’ stint as Liverpool manager.
Speaking during the build-up to his team’s Scottish Cup final against Hibernian on Saturday, Warburton pushed only the positives about Rodgers as it appeared likely the 43-year-old could be named the next Celtic manager within a matter of days.
When asked if there were any concerns about being ranged against such a heavyweight rival following promotion to the Premiership, he replied: “Not at all, you welcome it. Relish it,” he said. “ You want to work against various managers. We are a good club, we are in good shape and we’re looking forward to next season.
“Whoever we face will be a tough opponent. Brendan brings a wealth of experience having worked at the highest level.
“I think he would be a great opponent. I think it raises the profile of the Scottish game which could only be good and brings another level of excitement and interest to the fixtures.
Warburton said he has “occasional chats” with Rodgers while McParland “knows him exceptionally well so there is obviously a connection there.” But the connection that could be formed between Rodgers and him next season isn’t one he cares to frame as exciting.
“Exciting? It would be interesting. Interesting. There’s going to be Old Firm games anyway so they will be exciting there is no doubt about that.
“Brendan has worked at the highest level. He is very organised. Very meticulous. Very knowledgeable. A good man-manager. He’s worked at the highest level and almost won the Premier League.
“He has a good background, coming through the youths with the Chelsea academy and then through Watford and Reading and Swansea and, obviously, Liverpool.
“He is very experienced. I am sure he will be a big asset for
whatever club he joins.”
Warburton was asked what he would say to Rodgers if he asked his opinion on Scottish football.
“It’s a fantastic environment. It is highly competitive,” replied the Rangers manager.
“The first advice I received from a good friend in Scotland was ‘do not underestimate Scottish players and Scottish football’. It was great advice and that would be my advice to Brendan.
“Everyone is combative, competitive and 100 per cent – all of the time.
“It was a tough environment in the Championship and I’m sure the Premier League will be exactly the same.
“Brendan’s no fool. He knows the situation. It’s not a walk in the park, far from it.”
Not that Warburton is going to be pre-occupying himself with developments at Celtic over the summer. “It is none of my business at all. I won’t bother about it for one second,” he added.
“I’m not being rude to Celtic in any way but I’m not going to have any control over what Celtic do.
“I’m not going to make a comment which changes their recruitment policy or their staffing policy. Our only focus will be Rangers.
“We’ve started a lot of work and that’s my only focus. Hibs will be the same, Falkirk will be the same, all the clubs will be the same.”